Lessons from a Field Dog.
We have in our lives right now a dog trainer - Willy - who is doing an incredible job helping us communicate with and understand our new puppy, Paisley. He has a phrase he says regularly when he is explaining to us the reason (biologically and breed based) that our dog reacts and is the way she is. “It’s a real live thing.”
Our dog is a golden retriever, about 1 year old now. We did not know that there are two kinds of golden retriever in this world: the Companion golden retriever and the Field golden retriever. The first evolved historically to be the great mushy doofus who loves to hang around and sleep. (Our last dog I suspect was this kind of dog). And the Field golden retriever retains much of her original breeding as a hunting dog.
Guess what we have?
It’s a Real Live Thing.
When Willy uses this phrase he is explaining to us how this lovely adorable field dog is wired. She takes in huge amounts of sensory information. Unlike most dog breeds, for example, she can simultaneously process input from eyes and her nose/mouth. She has been bred to respond to flapping stimulation (retrievers are bird dogs) and so she compulsively latches onto brooms, rags when I’m wiping down surfaces, and the edge of my skirt when I walk.
She is bred to retrieve and is happiest -- and I mean this with all capital letters -- when she is searching and retrieving things. Anything. It is her JOB.
What Willy means by “It’s a Real Live Thing” is that because we are not dogs we often don’t understand that the experiences that motivate Paisley are Real and Living active parts of Paisley. He is emphasizing that they are not optional. She did not wake up one morning with a choice and say, “Hmm, flappy things could be an interesting thing to explore for a while.”
He is emphasizing that we cannot train her nature out of her. Nor would we want to (and he’s lovely about this) because being a field dog is a beautiful, amazing thing (as is being a companion dog). To say it’s what makes Paisley, Paisley is trite and doesn’t get to the truth that our essence equals our existence.
So, for Paisley the context in which we put her makes a huge difference as to whether those parts of her make sense or not and whether they are satisfied.
As well, we all have a JOB that is within our bones.
It’s a Real Live Thing.
We manage our energy not by telling some internal part of ourselves to be more or less a certain way, but by creating an external environment in intimate dialogue with the needs of our essence.
It is like asking our essence repeatedly and consistently what it needs to exist. What does it need to exist coherently and functionally and move about in the world with freedom?
Putting ourselves into the right context means that, like Paisley, our energy suddenly runs right. We’re not fighting our drive. Our nature. And we’re not negating our essence and our existence either.
Let’s be clear. The thing that you do, you are doing it whether you have a context that makes it make sense or not. It is not a choice. It is not something that you decide is a good business plan or a career choice.
Take that in.
The more the context supports this thing that you do, the less crazy you feel, the more satisfied, and the more functional, powerful and happy you are.
So. Two thoughts.
- In what spaces and places from your past and your present have you felt like you existed with all parts of you accepted and with space to roam? In what environments have you felt less crazy or even not crazy at all?
- How do we create a personal environment – whether our workspace or home – in which our nature is satisfied and our work makes sense?
The beauty of making our homes and workspaces into places of fierce nurturance is that these kinds of spaces often don’t exist in the larger contexts of our world.
On a visceral level, our bodies don’t always know that places in which we make sense exist.
Within the places that we own – the ones we shape through the things we love – we have the possibility of touching a world in which we move easefully, in which our energy runs right.
In which our Nature is known to be a Real Live Thing.
And this is an act of magic.
You are invited to a Fresh Look
If your office or workspace feels funky -- and not in the good way -- you can invite Judith to take a fresh look at your space and get insights on how to bring your office into greater alignment with Who You Really Are. Just ask.
Judith helps you figure out where your desk should go, what color to paint your walls, and all of the little details so you feel more at ease, totally at home, and completely held by your office.
She holds a Masters Degree in Interior Architecture at the University of Oregon and is certified in Design Psychology.
How does this deck work anyway?
I created a deck of cards that ‘reads’ our environments. It's still a little mysterious to me. How, I ask, can the cards 'read' the environment if they can't even 'see" it? However, they have proven again and again to be amazingly helpful in both creating designs for my clients and helping all sorts of people understand their relationship with their workspaces and home spaces in order to feel more spacious, free and alive.
In each newsletter I draw a card for all of us, to help us navigate the month ahead, understand what our collective environment is presenting to us, and suggest small changes we can make to our personal physical space that will support us in the coming month. Would love to hear from you if this card was helpful!
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